Ricky Ponting has paid tribute to Michael Clarke’s batting, captaincy and dedication, saying now is the wrong time for pundits to air grievances.
Clarke announced last week he would be retiring after the fifth Ashes Test due to poor form.
The 34-year-old’s captaincy and character have since been called into question by a range of figures, including former coach John Buchanan and ex-teammate Andrew Symonds.
The release of Ponting’s autobiography in 2013 prompted a public spat between he and Clarke, who was unhappy with how he’d been depicted as vice-captain.
Ponting admits the pair had their issues, but felt Clarke deserved more respect in the lead-up to his international swansong.
“Cricket takes all sorts of characters and Michael and I had our share of disagreements,” Ponting wrote in his ESPNcricinfo column.
“But when it came down to it he loved the game and performed with distinction for Australia as batsman and captain, taking the leadership job at a challenging time.
“It’s been a little disappointing to see some of the public criticisms levelled at Michael Clarke at a time when his enormous contribution to Australian cricket should be acknowledged.”
Clarke replaced Ponting as captain in 2011 after failed World Cup and Ashes campaigns.
Ponting suggested Clarke’s 28 Test centuries were all the more impressive given his chronic back and hamstring woes.
“His statistics and longevity are right up there with the very best cricketers of all time,” Ponting noted.
“He should look back on his career with enormous satisfaction and pride.
“It seldom came easy for Pup, with his back-related injuries forcing him to work harder than most, especially over the last five years or so.
“I really hope he gets to enjoy his farewell Test and perform at a level that we have all become used to seeing over his career.”
Incoming skipper Steve Smith is one of many Australian players to speak of the need to send Clarke out a winner.
Ponting agreed it would be a motivating factor.
“Certainly there will be a mood in the dressing room to send him out as appropriately as possible,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Ponting suggested Smith should stay at No.3 in the batting order.
The 26-year-old recently revealed he was contemplating a shift back to No.4.